Friday And-1 links: Injury updates for Anthony Davis, Eric Gordon

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Here is our regular look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points.

• The good news is the Hornets’ Anthony Davis is on the court and running. He went through the walkthrough with the starters. But he has yet to be cleared for contact. So, not exactly close to a return, but he is getting there.

• While we are in New Orleans, Eric Gordon is “making progress” but there still is no timeline for his return to the Hornets.

• Timberwolves GM David Kahn rejected the idea that he is involved in Pau Gasol trade talks saying he hasn’t spoken with the Lakers since July. The Lakers are not trading Gasol in the short-term anyway, they want to see him paired with Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard all at once. They want to se what they have before making a rash decision. But if that doesn’t work out and the Lakers do shop Gasol, Minnesota might well be near the front of the line if they are willing to offer Nikola Pekovic and Derrick Williams (plus likely Luke Ridnour). But we’re a long way from there right now.

• The Lakers as a team went to see the movie “Lincoln” and Kobe poked some fun at his teammate’s expense.

• Here is a great look from Zach Lowe at Grantland at what is wrong with the Heat defense.

• Davis Stern talked about Kobe Bryant being on Michael Jordan’s pedestal. That will piss a few of you off.

Lawrence Frank wants more consistency from rookie Andre Drummond in Detroit. Frank know’s he’s a rookie, right?

• If you’re wondering why you didn’t see Roddy Beaubois playing for Dallas Thursday night, it’s because he has a dislocated finger.

• Michael Beasley may be about to lose his spot in the Suns starting lineup. Stunning. Who could ever have seen that coming?

• The Portland Trail Blazers have had more top executives leave. There is a changing of the guard with that team’s management right now.

• Finally, for you Friday afternoon amusement, a guy trying to dunk over a basketball rack and failing. Spectacularly. (Hat tip The Big Lead.)

Kobe Bryant says LeBron James has earned the right to take a rest (VIDEO)

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Former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant was a pretty consistent player in the NBA. Save for his final injury-laden seasons and the lockout year of 2011-12, Bryant played in no fewer than 65 regular season games in a single season.

Coaches also had no reason or want to ask Bryant — a notorious worker — to sit out in order to rest. That wasn’t really on the menu, and Bryant knew that.

Speaking to ESPN’s First Take, Bryant said no coach really asked him to ever take a rest, “I’ve never been approached by a coach and asked to rest.”

Bryant remarked that he took queues from Michael Jordan during tough stretches of the season — back-to-backs or four games in five night scenarios — where he could switch his game up, floating from perimeter to post, in order to save energy during those matchups.

Bryant also said during the same interview that he understands the complexity of the modern game, and that players like LeBron James deserve to take a rest if they’ve earned it.

“LeBron has done so much for the game. He’s earned the opportunity to take a rest,” said Bryant.

The debate on this subject will continue, it seems.

Phil Jackson’s reaction to Kristaps Porzingis getting turned upside down feels about right

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New York Knicks big man Kristaps Porzingis is the future of the franchise, so any time he’s upended and nearly lands on his noggin it’s a cause for concern. To say the least.

That’s what happened on Monday night, as Porzingis got turned upside down during a play near the basket during a game against the Detroit Pistons.

Porzingis was OK on the play, and Detroit big man Andre Drummond did his best to help catch him so nothing too scary happened.

Still, Knicks president Phil Jackson had a pretty hilarious reaction to the whole thing. I guess that’s what happens when you watch your basketball life flash before your eyes.

Porzingis was unhurt and played a full 37 minutes. New York beat Detroit, 109-95.

Jimmy Butler won’t pick LeBron over Durant as toughest matchup in NBA, and for good reason

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Chicago Bulls star Jimmy Butler is a smart dude. He’s spent years of offseason work turning himself into a max-level player, and that shows he knows not only how to work but how to attack the game of basketball.

He’s also smart enough to know he shouldn’t go poking the bear when it comes to two future Hall of Fame players in LeBron James and Kevin Durant.

When asked whether the Cleveland Cavaliers star or the Golden State Warriors scorer was the toughest matchup in the NBA, Butler made sure he wasn’t adding any kind of blackboard material to rile up either player.

Via Twitter:

The best way to defend LeBron or Durant: don’t make them angry.

Smart move, Jimmy.

Likely top-10 pick Dennis Smith Jr. of North Carolina State declares for draft

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This had long been expected, but now it is official.

North Carolina State freshman point guard Dennis Smith Jr. has declared for the NBA Draft. He made the announcement on ESPN saying playing in the NBA is his dream, reports the News & Observer.

“It was definitely an obtainable dream for me,” said in an interview on SportsCenter. “I knew I would chase it with all of my might.”

Smith is considered a top-10 pick (DraftExpress.com has him going seventh currently).

Smith had missed his senior year of high school ball with an ACL injury, but was named ACC Freshman of the Year after averaging 18.1 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. He had two triple-doubles as a freshman. He was also inconsistent. Smith had brilliant games and ones where he looked disinterested.

Smith is unquestionably explosive and athletic, and that makes him a threat both in the open court and getting to the rim off a pick-and-roll. He’s got good handles, he knows how to draw fouls, and you can see his potential to get buckets at the next level. His jump shot needs to be far more consistent to thrive at the next level, however. The questions about Smith are more about his ability to make good decisions and be a floor general. He knows how to survey the floor and create for himself, but can he figure out when to pass to set up teammates? Can he defend consistently? He needs smooth out the rough edges of his game, but the potential to be very good is there.